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MUDI'Laura Kasischke This is spring's grim silk— mud, and a love deep enough to swim or drown or bathe or be born in. My cat is gone, my tearful sleeve, my lazy one. How long? This is the exchangeable merchandise of love— wild garUc, broken glass, a hubcap in the mud. My cat, I see, has been here. Her French mittens in the ditch, but she's gone on. How far? This open field between malignant and benign. God is up there watching someone crucified. Oh, not His only son. Not mine. Not my husband, father, me. God is watching someone He never noticed before get nailed to something He'd mistaken for a telephone pole. Tonight I'U place a plastic cup of peas, a small fork, a piece of cheese, and my 180 · The Missouri Review whole life like a shield of fragrant vapor—weightless, shifting— before the only one in this world whose loss I couldn't endure. Once, I drank a spoonful of perfume. And the cat, the cafs a detail—crooked, impatient, sweet and also gone somewhere, I know and loathe it, somewhere killed or weeping, lost or never noticed by a very near-sighted God. I wanted to smell like violets deep inside. Once I wore a short skirt to a dance and kissed a boy who died before my life began. Laura Kasischke The Missouri Review · 181 BUFFALO/Laura Kasischke I had the baby in my arms, he was asleep. We were waiting for Old Faithful, who was late. The tourists smelled like flowers, or like shafts of perfume moving from bench to bench, from Gift Shop to Port-o-Pot. The sun was a fluid smear in the sky, Uke white hair in water. The women were as beautiful as the men, who were so beautiful they never needed to see their wives or children again. It happened then. Something underground. The hush of sound. I remembered once pretending to have eaten a butterfly. My mother held my arms hard until I told her it was a lie and then she sighed. I've loved every minute of my life! The day I learned to ride a bike without training wheels, I might as well have been riding a bike with no wheels at all! At any time, if I'd had to agree to bear twenty-seven sorrows for a single one of these joys . . . 182 · The Missouri Review If the agreement were that I had to love it all so much just, in the end, to die . . . Still, I can taste those wings I didn't eat, the sweet and tender lavender of them. One tourist covered her mouth with a hand and seemed to cry. How could I have doubted her? There were real tears in her eyes! The daisies feU from her dress, and if at that moment she'd cracked an egg in a bowl, the bowl would have filled with light. If there is a God, why not this violent froth, this huge chiffon scarf of pressure under water under her white sandals in July? The baby was asleep, still sucking, in my arms, a lazy wand of sun moving back and forth across his brow. I heard a girl's laughter in the parking lot, soft and wild, like the last note of "Jacob's Ladder" played by the children's handbell choir. I turned around. It had been watching me. Or him. Or both of us. Good beast, I whispered to it facetiously under my breath. It took, in our direction, one slow and shaggy step. Laura Kasischke The Missouri Review · 183 ILLINOIS/Laura Kasischke We are up to our waists in the bloody grass of it. Not yet dead or divorced. We are driving ourselves through the tarry artery of it. You've read this poem before. An atom smasher, an art museum, a Styrofoam factory, a meatpacking plant. A lot of blood on a lot of hands. A bloody woman at the side of the road. A bloody child in a bloody stroller. Blood in our bodies. Blood in vats. Blood in our hair. Blood on our hats. If I...


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pp. 180-188
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